SHOW MENU

Printed Matter Rates 1848-1968


A short-lived-usage -- commercial FDC of the 1d blue stamp issued 3rd May 1951, which
only paid the basic printed matter rate for approximately 1 month

The first concessionary rate for printed materials was the 'Book Post', introduced in 1848 at the suggestion of Rowland Hill, with the aim of encouraging the circulating libraries of the time. From at least 1852 the regulations were extended such that practically any printed matter could be sent, provided that letters were not enclosed and that the packets were open to allow inspection. Initially the Post Office were reluctant to offer a rate below 1d, but a halfpenny post was eventually introduced in 1870 in response to the growth of circular delivery companies in the 1860s, who offered rates as low as a farthing per circular.

The term originally used for this class of mail was 'book packets'. It became 'halfpenny packets' on 1st January 1904 (by which time the basic halfpenny rate was the only one to be cheaper than letter post), and 'Printed Papers' (or 'Printed Matter') from 1st January 1916 (by which time the distinction mattered again after wartime alterations in weight steps). By this stage a wide range of printed and partially printed items could be sent as printed papers -- for full details see contemporary Post Office Guides.

The special rates essentially came to an end upon the introduction of two-tier post on 15th September 1968 (although see here for a minor exception until 1971).

From 20th May 1922, items paid at the basic minimum printed paper rate, and not posted by a cut-off time (typically mid-afternoon), were held over until the following day. Such items had also sometimes been referred to with the term 'second class' mail.

Date Rates Date Rates Date Rates
1848
(21 Feb)
6d - 1lb
1s - 2lb
1s 6d - 3lb
2s - 4lb
2s 6d - 5lb
3s - 6lb
3s 6d - 7lb
4s - 8lb
4s 6d - 9lb
5s - 10lb
5s 6d - 11lb
6s - 12lb
6s 6d - 13lb
7s - 14lb

Books only, originally only one per package, rules relaxed soon after to allow more than one and second-hand books

Maximum weight 14lb
1855
(11 Jun)
1d - 4oz
2d - 8oz
4d - 1lb
6d - 1lb
8d - 2lb
10d - 2lb
1s - 3lb
1s 2d - 3lb
1s 4d - 4lb
1s 6d - 4lb
1s 8d - 5lb
1s 10d - 5lb

Each additional lb - 2d
1866
(1 Mar)
1d - 4oz
2d - 8oz
3d - 12oz
4d - 1lb
5d - 1lb 4oz
6d - 1lb 8oz
7d - 1lb 12oz
8d - 2lb
9d - 2lb 4oz
10d - 2lb 8oz
11d - 2lb 12oz
1s - 3lb

Each additional 4oz - 1d
1870
(1 Oct)
d - 2oz
1d - 4oz
1d - 6oz
2d - 8oz
2d - 10oz
3d - 12oz
3d - 14oz
4d - 1lb
4d - 1lb 2oz
5d - 1lb 4oz
5d - 1lb 6oz
6d - 1lb 8oz

Each additional 2oz - d

Maximum weight 5lb
1897
(22 Jun)
d - 2oz



Letter rates now began at 1d for 4oz with d each extra 2oz, so special book post/halfpenny packet post rate only applied for packets up to 2oz
1915
(1 Nov)
d - 2oz
1d - 4oz
1d - 6oz
2d - 8oz
2d - 10oz
3d - 12oz
3d - 14oz
4d - 1lb
4d - 1lb 2oz
5d - 1lb 4oz
5d - 1lb 6oz
6d - 1lb 8oz
6d - 1lb 10oz
7d - 1lb 12oz
7d - 1lb 14oz
8d - 2lb

Same as previous letter rates due to wartime increases for higher weight letters

Maximum weight 2lb
1918
(3 Jun)
d - 1oz
1d - 2oz



Penny Post principle abandoned due to increasing costs, but pre-war weight steps restored as a sweetener -- so only these rates were concessions, higher weights covered by letter post as in 1897-1915
1920
(1 Jun)
d - 1oz
1d - 2oz
1d - 4oz
2d - 6oz
2d - 8oz
3d - 10oz
3d - 12oz
4d - 14oz
4d - 1lb
5d - 1lb 2oz
5d - 1lb 4oz
6d - 1lb 6oz
6d - 1lb 8oz
7d - 1lb 10oz
7d - 1lb 12oz
8d - 1lb 14oz
8d - 2lb

Reintroduction of significant concessionary printed papers rate
1921
(13 Jun)
1d - 2oz
1d - 4oz
2d - 6oz
2d - 8oz
3d - 10oz
3d - 12oz
4d - 14oz
4d - 1lb
5d - 1lb 2oz
5d - 1lb 4oz
6d - 1lb 6oz
6d - 1lb 8oz
7d - 1lb 10oz
7d - 1lb 12oz
8d - 1lb 14oz
8d - 2lb
1922
(29 May)
d - 1oz
1d - 2oz
1d - 4oz
2d - 6oz
2d - 8oz
3d - 10oz
3d - 12oz
4d - 14oz
4d - 1lb
5d - 1lb 2oz
5d - 1lb 4oz
6d - 1lb 6oz
6d - 1lb 8oz
7d - 1lb 10oz
7d - 1lb 12oz
8d - 1lb 14oz
8d - 2lb
1923
(14 May)
d - 2oz
1d - 4oz
1d - 6oz
2d - 8oz
2d - 10oz
3d - 12oz
3d - 14oz
4d - 1lb
4d - 1lb 2oz
5d - 1lb 4oz
5d - 1lb 6oz
6d - 1lb 8oz
6d - 1lb 10oz
7d - 1lb 12oz
7d - 1lb 14oz
8d - 2lb
1940
(1 May)
1d - 2oz
1d - 4oz
2d - 6oz
2d - 8oz
3d - 10oz
3d - 12oz
4d - 14oz
4d - 1lb
5d - 1lb 2oz
5d - 1lb 4oz
6d - 1lb 6oz
6d - 1lb 8oz
7d - 1lb 10oz
7d - 1lb 12oz
8d - 1lb 14oz
8d - 2lb
1951
(1 Jun)
1d - 4oz
2d - 6oz
2d - 8oz
3d - 10oz
3d - 12oz
4d - 14oz
4d - 1lb
5d - 1lb 2oz
5d - 1lb 4oz
6d - 1lb 6oz
6d - 1lb 8oz
7d - 1lb 10oz
7d - 1lb 12oz
8d - 1lb 14oz
8d - 2lb
1956
(1 Jan)
1d - 2oz
2d - 4oz
3d - 6oz
4d - 8oz
5d - 10oz
6d - 12oz
7d - 14oz
8d - 1lb
9d - 1lb 2oz
10d - 1lb 4oz
11d - 1lb 6oz
1s 0d - 1lb 8oz
1s 1d - 1lb 10oz
1s 2d - 1lb 12oz
1s 3d - 1lb 14oz
1s 4d - 2lb
1956
(1 Jun)
2d - 4oz
3d - 6oz
4d - 8oz
5d - 10oz
6d - 12oz
7d - 14oz
8d - 1lb
9d - 1lb 2oz
10d - 1lb 4oz
11d - 1lb 6oz
1s - 1lb 8oz
1s 1d - 1lb 10oz
1s 2d - 1lb 12oz
1s 3d - 1lb 14oz
1s 4d - 2lb
1957
(1 Oct)
2d - 2oz
4d - 4oz
5d - 6oz
6d - 8oz
7d - 10oz
8d - 12oz
9d - 14oz
10d - 1lb
11d - 1lb 2oz
1s - 1lb 4oz
1s 1d - 1lb 6oz
1s 2d - 1lb 8oz
1s 3d - 1lb 10oz
1s 4d - 1lb 12oz
1s 5d - 1lb 14oz
1s 6d - 2lb
1961
(1 Oct)
2d - 2oz
4d - 4oz
5d - 6oz
6d - 8oz
7d - 10oz
8d - 12oz
9d - 14oz
10d - 1lb
11d - 1lb 2oz
1s - 1lb 4oz
1s 1d - 1lb 6oz
1s 2d - 1lb 8oz
1s 3d - 1lb 10oz
1s 4d - 1lb 12oz
1s 5d - 1lb 14oz
1s 6d - 2lb
1965
(17 May)
3d - 2oz
5d - 4oz
6d - 6oz
7d - 8oz
8d - 10oz
9d - 12oz
10d - 14oz
11d - 1lb
1s - 1lb 2oz
1s 1d - 1lb 4oz
1s 2d - 1lb 6oz
1s 3d - 1lb 8oz
1s 4d - 1lb 10oz
1s 5d - 1lb 12oz
1s 6d - 1lb 14oz
1s 7d - 2lb